Let’s talk about taking a safety moment for Safe Work Month

Safe Work Australia has put the onus on Australian organisations, employers and workers to “take a safety moment” and consider how workplace health and safety can be improved on this October.

Safe Work Australia Chair, Diane Smith-Gander, has launched this years Safe Work Australia campaign with the hard facts: That last year in Australia, 191 people died while doing their job and over 106,000 made a claim for serious injury.

“No industry should be unsafe to work in and no death or injury is acceptable” said Smith-Gander.

“A safety incident can happen in a moment and in any workplace, but a moment’s forethought can prevent harm.”

Safe Work Australia believes it can as simple as employers and management speaking with their team for a few minutes in the morning about the hazards and risks that are in the workplace, listen to their concerns and make actionable steps to improve those hazards.

“While there is a 47 per cent decrease in the national workplace fatality rate since 2007, there were still 191 workplace fatalities and Smith-Gander said every worker fatality is one too many,” said Gander.

Key work health and safety statistics to keep in mind

  • Of the 191 workplace fatalities, 93% were male
  • People between the ages of 55-64 had the highest rate of fatality
  • NSW (62) and QLD (45) reported the largest fatality numbers
  • 32% of work-related fatalities was by vehicle collision, 18% by moving objects, 15% falls from height, 8% by being hit by falling objects, 5% rollover of non-road vehicle and 4% was due to drowning
  • Machinery operators and drivers, labourers and managers were the top three occupations affected by workplace injury
  • Agriculture, transport & warehousing and arts & recreation reported the highest work-related injury fatalities

Resources for Safe Work Month

For those who want free resources for their toolbox talks or HR process, the Work Safe Queensland website offers a tonne of content to frame your health and safety strategy. The long resource list includes short films of those who’ve experienced workplace injury, industry safety videos, posters and calendars and toolkits.

Bringing together National Safe Work Month and Mental Health Month

October also plays host to Mental Health Month, which offers a great opportunity to address mental health and safety in the workplace. Every year, 7200 Australians are compensated for work related mental health conditions, also known as psychological injuries.

The most common work-related mental health stressors related to the workplace are workload pressures, workplace harassment, bullying and exposure to workplace violence.

Blue collar industries have frighteningly high suicide rates in Australia, with the construction industry 20-30% higher (on any given year) than the national male average.

A combination of a “suck it up” culture, stigma around mental health and lack of support for workers has led to higher rates of mental health conditions. According to a 2013 Lifeline report, a significant number of truck drivers and FIFO workers has “poor coping mechanisms” relying on stimulant drinks, illicit substances and excessive amounts of alcohol.

What can we all do to improve health and safety?

Start your journey to better health and safety in your workplace by taking part in this year’s theme “a moment is all it takes.” Share your safety moment using the hashtag #mysafetymoment.

Safe Work Australia offers a great campaign kit with heaps of resources, materials and ideas for your workplace.

Talk about workplace hazards in your workplace. Check in with your employees and co-workers, ask them how they’re feeling and offer support for managing workloads, sleep deprivation, poor environmental conditions, team bonding/isolation and exposure to traumatic workplace events.

Let’s work together to reduce workplace incidents and injuries.